Blackwall

Oct 142014
 

The cottage, on Blackwall’s Orange Grove Rd (Blackwall) on the Central Coast, was bought by (Spike) Milligan’s parents Florence and Leo after they moved from England to Australia in the 1950s. Milligan used the wood-panelled study at the rear of the house to pen three of his bestselling books. Nephew Michael Milligan said he was certain Puckoon and Hitler, My Part In His Downfall were written in the cottage, and it was believed Silly Verse For Kids may have been the third. “They were typed out on grandpa’s old typewriter and I always remember seeing old manuscripts and notes around the place,” Michael said. 1

Up a steep driveway, affording water views over Brisbane Water across to St Hubert’s Island, this modest green fibro cottage still boasts the spreading branches of two elderly frangipani trees behind a row of neatly trimmed hibiscus on the front lawn. A much smaller version of these grew here when the house was painted blue and Spike spent months at a time working rhythmically on an old typewriter out the back in the wood panelled study built by his father. Spike said of him, “my father had a profound influence on me, he was a lunatic.” It was from these same back steps that Spike would belt out his favourite Frank Sinatra tune, My Way, to be amplified back at him from the face of Blackwall Mountain, the occasional neighbour interjecting “Give it a rest, Spike!” Was it the suburban normality, the sheer ordinariness of it all that Spike enjoyed when he came here? 2

Spike had loved to wander this quiet Blackwall Mountain reserve behind his parents’ fibro home in Woy Woy, holding the battered Bird Names book he’d covered in brown paper. It’s clear he questioned the ‘safety’ of human civilization, declaring it a threat to wild places, both through his voluminous prose and in his later animal rights and environmental activism. Wild Australia is what kept drawing Spike back here, again and again. The sheer beauty and tragedy and absurd wonder of it all. 3

 

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NSW - Blackwall - 393 Orange Grove Road -33.504766, 151.337529 NSW - Blackwall - 393 Orange Grove Road

 

Notes:

  1. Brooke Newstead. Source: The Daily Telegraph – February 09, 2008
  2. Sophia Kobacker
  3. Sophia Kobacker